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My Garden Diary

November and December 2014

Copyright © 2014 by David E. Ross

Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site.

Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. This diary is primarily for my own benefit, so that I can look back upon what I did and when. But I thought others might also be interested, so here it is.

Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?


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Entries are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.

When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold or appears as a link to another Web page.

Dates refer to other entries in the same year as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given. However, they may refer to entries on prior pages.

This diary has been visited times since I started it.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
14 December

Partially coudy, some sun (sometime hazy), and cold

Temp: 49-60
Winter chill: 0
Humidity: 50%
Wind: 0-7

Rain —
This season: 4.54
Week: 1.63

Raked more leaves — mostly from my valley white oak (Quercus lobata) — from in front. The garden waste bin was empty, so the accumulated leaves were all "clean". I used some to mulch a bare area in the front lawn. Others mulched the west bed near the tangelo (Citrus reticulata × paradisi) and the camellia bed. I placed fallen twigs and small branches on the mulch to help stabilize the leaves against the wind. Most of the rest of the leaves went onto the compost pile. A few leaves remained at the bottom of the bin where I could not reach them.

Every Sunday I water the house plants and the potted outdoor plants in front. This time, I used rain water that I captured in a 5 gallon pail. In front, I only had to water the group of weeping Chinese banyans (Ficus benjamina) on the front porch; their pot is sheltered under the eaves and received no rain. The other pots were exposed and are still quite moist.

1 December

Overcast, gray, and cold

Temp: 55-63
Winter chill: 0
Humidity: 87%
Wind: 3-12

Rain —
This season: 1.12
Week: 0.74

Yes, we had real rain, almost three-quarters of an inch. As of today, we have had more rain this rain year than we had as of this date in the prior rain year but less than in the rain year before that. This will help us in southern California to conserve water by not using our sprinklers. I do not know if enough fell in northern California — our real source of water — to mitigate our drought. As of a month ago, the combined amount of water in the 12 largest reservoirs was only 24% of their combined capacity.

Finished broadcasting gypsum in the beds in back (25 Nov). A major rain storm is predicted for tomorrow. With thick mulch in some beds and thick ground cover in the others, the gypsum should rinse into the soil and not be washed away. After hauling about 75 pounds of gypsum from the garage in front to the back and then around the beds, however, my back hurt too much for me to treat the lawn.

This year, I got no guavas from my pineapple guava bush (Feijoa sellowiana). I suspect squirrels got them all. Where is a hungry coyote or hawk when you need one?

25 November

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 60-79
Winter chill: 0
Humidity: 5%
Wind: 2-17

Rain —
This season: 0.38
Week: 0.02
Days since last: 5

The extremely low humidity experienced after this past week's rain might have erased all the moisture that fell. In the meantime, wind has prevented me from completing my once-in-three-weeks irrigation of My Hill.

Broadcast gypsum in back, in the camellia and teardrop beds and about half of the east bed. I am now out of gypsum, having used about 125 pounds of it for the front (9 Nov) and what I did today. I think I need to buy another 150 pounds.

Trying to layer the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). Layering is a method of propagation involving burying a shoot of a plant without cutting it from its parent plant. Thus, the shoot is placed to enter the soil and then emerge, with a leaf node buried.

Put up two cuttings of sage (Salvia officinalis). While sage is supposed to be a perennial herb and mine does survive the winter quite well, it always seems to die in the middle of spring. Although sage is a salvia, most of which root from cuttings quite readily, I have not yet been successful with sage cuttings.

One of the Dracaena in my living room died, and I think the other one will follow it. The Cordyline in the same pot, however, seems to be thriving. While they appear similar, Cordyline and Dracaena are quite different plants.

17 November

Partially cloudy, mostly sunny, and cold

Temp: 57-64
Winter chill: 0
Humidity: 4%
Wind: 11-31 (gusts to 47)

The wind was so cold and brisk that I cancelled my plans to garden. However, I discovered that several new canes of the climbing 'Fourth of July' rose in front were blocking the side gate; so I made an exception and tied them to the wire that runs between my house and my neighbor to the west.

In the breakfast room, I tied extended shoots of the all-green pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum) to the twine that runs from its flower pot to a hook in the ceiling. One shoot actually reaches the hook. I will train that shoot into a U-turn back towards its pot.


Rain —
This season: 0.36
Week: 0.03
Days since last: 3

9 November

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 69-87
Winter chill: 0
Humidity: 14%
Wind: 3-11

Rain —
This season: 0.33
Days since last: 8

Finished applying gypsum to the front of the house (6 Nov). This included not only the larger part of the pink clover lawn and adjacent shrubs but also the roses, valley white oak (Quercus lobata), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), and the Podocarpus that grows at the west corner of the garage. I rinsed the gypsum through the leaf mulch for the latter plants because the roses only have drip irrigation and the other three get no irrigation at all. Rain (we all hope) will finish dissolving the gypsum into the soil.

Lightly trimmed all three of the Podocarpus. One was interfering with opening and closing the garage door. Another was blocking a lawn sprinkler. The third was blocking the brick path to the front door.

The parlor palm — perhaps Chamaedorea elegans — in the greenhouse window definitely died (12 Oct). Instead of replacing it, I reused its pot for a gift Kalanchoe blossfeldiana that was in a pot far too small. In any case, the greenhouse window had become too crowded.

6 November

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 70-89
Winter chill: 0
Humidity: 10%
Wind: 1-9

Trimmed the dwarf ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') under the liquidambar tree (L. styraciflua) in front.

Broadcast gypsum into the shrub beds and the trimmed ivy in front. Then, I broadcast more gypsum on the smaller part of the front lawn, on the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) between the driveway and the brick walk to the front door. The gypsum should react with the clay soil to make the clay soil more porous so that winter rains (we all hope) will penetrate and not run off. I'll broadcast gypsum on the larger part of the front lawn in a few days.


Rain —
This season: 0.33
Week: 0.33

Weather data are from the Cheeseboro (CHE) weather station, about 2 miles ENE of my house.

The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the previous night.

Winter chill is the cumulative hours of temperatures at or below 45°F from 1 November through 31 March. It is reported during that period and through April.

The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)

Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before the end of the day). I also indicate peak wind gusts parenthetically when they are significantly high.

Rain is in inches. Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall from 1 October until 30 September of the following year. Week is the cumulative amount of measurable rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.

Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter. Also, a day that would normally be characterized as "mild" might instead be "warm" if the immediately previous days were quite cold. Finally, such characterization reflects when I was actually outside and gardening and ignores changes that occur while I am inside.

The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:

Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
See also The Climate.
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